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It’s Time to Stand with the Oppressed People of North Korea, Here’s How

Charitable heart? Great communicator? Joy in teaching others? There’s a role for everyone in aiding North Korean refugees.

Every year, one thousand people escape from North Korea with the hopes of freedom and a new life. 

North Korea has been a country full of mystery to outsiders due to its closed borders and secrecy. It is only through the brave testimonies of refugees, North Koreans who have escaped the country, that the rest of the world has begun to see North Korea’s government for the oppressive tyranny that it is.

Yeon-mi Park and Hyeonseo Lee are among the many North Korean refugees who share their tragic experiences and the horrors they had to face as citizens of North Korea. 

Evidential through the stories of North Koreans, escape is no simple task. Dangers range from starvation, alligator-infested waters and recapture by the North Korean government.

Even from hundreds of miles away, there are numerous ways to support North Korean citizens and refugees.

Donate 

There are non-profits and human advocacy groups in the U.S. and worldwide that support North Koreans. Here are a few reputable organizations to consider: 

Liberty in North Korea  

Liberty in North Korea is directly involved with North Korean refugees who make their way through an underground railroad to Southeast Asia. The donations they receive go towards food, communication and shelter for refugees.  

North Korea Support | JTS America 

JTS America sends emergency humanitarian aid worldwide, especially to Asia, through donations. They aim to support those who have been hit with crises and natural disasters. They supply necessities and opportunities for local people to volunteer in relief projects. In North Korea, they specifically work with the orphanages and most vulnerable populations. 

North Korea Freedom Coalition 

The North Korea Freedom Coalition supports people in North Korea and the outer countries, such as China. They provide humanitarian relief to the people of North Korea, both refugees, and citizens. They advocate for human rights policies in North Korea as well as the human rights of refugees who are violated both in and outside of North Korea. 

Helping Hands Korea 

Helping Hands Korea is a part of the underground railroad that guides refugees to freedom. Based in South Korea, their work provides necessities to the most negatively impacted population of North Korea and supports children who have been left with little to no support. 

Become a Volunteer ESL Teacher 

To take a more direct approach to support, consider volunteer work as an ESL teacher for North Korean students. The escape from North Korea is among one of the hardest experiences someone could go through, but post-escape, refugees must learn to adapt to a new society.

The Korean language varies from North and South Korea due to the heavy influence that Western culture has had on South Korean culture. North Koreans must adapt to westernized language and society. This is especially true if they plan to move to North America and work. English tutors help them accomplish that. 

The most reputable and well-known organization that has opportunities for individuals to become English tutors is LoveTNKR. They provide an application and information that has the steps involved to become an English tutor. 

Inform and Raise Awareness 

Photo: Yeon-mi Park speaking at the 2015 International Students for Liberty Conference.

One of the greatest tools for change is awareness. Stay up to date with recent changes, news coverage, and follow and support the advocates whose voices need to be heard. Tell others about the violations of human rights in North Korea and its border countries, and share with others about the organizations that are active and in need of donations.

Closing Thoughts 

It can feel like this issue is bigger than all of us, but a handful of committed individuals turns to hundreds and then to thousands. North Koreans have paved their path towards the liberation of their people. Now more than ever, Americans and people all over the world can show their support.  

Together we can all pursue the deliverance of the 25 million human beings who still live in the confines of North Korea today. 

In Yeonmi Park’s book, “In Order to Live”, which features her upbringing in North Korea and her courageous escape, she shared, 

“For all the supporters around the world who send me encouraging and touching messages through social media: I could never acknowledge you all in this small space, but you know who you are. Every smile, every small gesture, every tear you shed with me gave me the courage to share a story that I never thought I would share with anyone. Thank you for believing in me. There were times when I had lost my faith in humanity, but you have heard me. You have cared. And this is how, together, we begin to change the world.” 

Here are some great resources that provide insight into the lives of North Koreans and can be easily shared with others to raise awareness: 

Yeonmi Park’s story of escaping from North Korea 

In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park  

Hyeonseo Lee’s story of escaping from North Korea  

Kim Pil-Ju’s story of escaping from North Korea  

Liberty in North Korea’s Instagram Page 

Amy is currently studying English at Grand Canyon University. At Hercampus, she works as an editor and as a bi-weekly writer. “Many are the plans of man but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21
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